Author Topic: Starr Struck Story (Rewritten) Around 1155 words  (Read 2747 times)

MrsButler

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Starr Struck Story (Rewritten) Around 1155 words
« on: August 22, 2010, 12:01:08 PM »
P R O L O G U E
Three Months Earlier

Mr. Batt Snr. strolled in at noon. From his feet upwards he looked fine; he wore a black pin-striped suit, white shirt and grey tie. It was his chosen foot-wear that was the problem, a pair of brown leather Jesus sandals over off-white sports socks.
 
Lara gave him a once over with curious eyes, anticipating trouble in the form of a tell-tale bulge that protruded from her boss’s top inside pocket.

   “What brings you here, Mr Batt?” she asked noticing his glazed eyes.

   “The lap dance club closed early,” he shook his head and leant on her desk to steady his balance. “Took some business cards with me…thought I might drum up a bit more trade…new clients,” he nodded, his eyes couldn’t focus properly.  

Lara opened her mouth up to reply and then thought better of it, some things were best left unsaid, and she didn’t want to lose her job.
Mr.Batt jnr. and his wife emerged from the back-room just as some customer’s walked in, their eyes wild with terror at the sight of Batt Snr.

   “Dad, what are you doing here? You’re supposed to be taking temporary retirement,” Batt Jnr took his father’s arm and steered him towards the back-room, pausing at the door and gesticulating to his wife. “Jane, ask Lara to deal with those customer’s.”

 Jane Batt swallowed and nodded at her husband with hot eyes before approaching my desk.

   “He’s going through a difficult time,” she pointed at the back-room.

   “Is it true he’s left his wife?” I enquired, curious to see if she would tell.

   “Yes,” she answered in a quiet voice. “We only picked him up from rehab last week and well… need I say more, Lara. May I ask for your discretion when it comes to Alex? It’s a difficult time for us all, especially my husband.”

   “Of course, I’ll see to them,” I gestured towards the perusing couple near the property photographs.

Jane turned towards the back-room, a miserable expression on her open face.

***
While they weren’t looking Alex Batt took a quick swig from this morning’s quarter bottle of Bells whisky and scanned the room. Two livid faces dominated the crowded space, the land of many filing cabinets… he’d made many an improper proposition in this room to one secretary or other.
    
   “Still Mr. Angry, aren’t you, son? You need to come out with me and relax. Have a few beers…” Alex winced and smiled weakly at his son’s wife. “You don’t mind if Bobbie comes out with me do you, Jane?”

   “Yes I bloody do. You’re a disgrace, Alex. You’ve left Barbara… and you’re back on the whisky again.” She wagged a finger in his face. “Don’t even think about it, if it wasn’t for us this place would have fallen apart years ago.”

   “Be careful what you say, Jane. This is still my company,” he slurred. “I haven’t time for this nonsense.  I’m an extremely important man and you’re wasting my time. I’d better be going unless you want me to deal with that nice couple out there… the woman had great legs… did you see, Bobbie?”

***
Lara prompted the couple to sit down, ignoring the heated conversation from the back of the room.

   “It get’s tense in the board-room near the end of the tax year,” she offered.

   “No problem,” the man said, extending a hand. “I’m Mr. Smith and this is my wife, Angelique.”

   “Pleased to meet you both,”

 Three buttons down his crisp white shirt, near dead centre of his chest, was a solid gold necklace. It took all Lara’s focus and determination to avert her eyes from it, fixing her stare on his forehead instead, avoiding his roguish eyes.

A thin layer of sweat covered her back as she sought out the glittering gold once more, this time catching a tantalising glimpse of the pendant beneath.

   “If you don’t mind,” his manner was arrogant. “I’d like to move things along; we’re looking for something in the two million price bracket, plenty of bedrooms, a swimming pool and a few acres of land.”
  
 Lara’s knees shook beneath the desk. An awful image filled the eye of her mind, she took a deep breath and closed her eyes. With a jolt she jumped from her seat and walked to the water cooler, trying her best to control her shaking hands as she filled her plastic cup with ice cold water.

   “Forgive me, it’s a warm afternoon,” she pointed to her drink as though to explain her thirst. “It’s your lucky day. I have several properties that might interest you, one moment please.”  She felt his eyes on her as she walked in the direction of the filing cabinets.

   “Here we are,” she said passing them a dozen or so files. “I’m sure all of these fit the criteria you’ve asked for.”

A killer smile revealed his even white teeth. “May I use your toilet?”

   “Of course,” Lara stood and signalled towards a door near the entrance.

   “Won’t be a moment, Angelique. She’s from France you know,” he said grinning. “She’d be happier in the Riviera! And what do I offer her? The river Mersey.”

    “We have one or two dockside properties that may…” Lara’s voice trailed off as he ignored her and strutted towards the WC.

Angelique discarded the files, her elegant hands lifting a photograph from the office desk.

   “Who is zis?” her accent was strong.

   “My daughter. I’m so proud of her; she’s starting business studies at a top university in September. Do you have children?”

The woman laughed, tossing her perfect, glossy hair. “No. Do you think my husband would find me attractive if I ruined zis figure?” Her face became serious. “You don’t look old enough to have such a young, beautiful daughter. Have you had work done?”

   “Work?”

   “Oui. A face-lift?”

   “I couldn’t afford a facial never mind a face-lift,” Lara shrugged, allowing her eyes to scrutinise the French woman. The Cartier watch, expensive shoes and bag, even her pen looked pricey as she scribbled her number on a pad.

   “Arh… here you are, Marcus. I thought you’d run away.” She held out a piece of paper. “My husband’s number and my number, should you need to contact us regarding the sale of our house… or regarding any properties we might be interested in.”  She picked up the files and prompted her husband to leave.

   “Oh, just one more thing,” Lara’s heart thumped in her chest, she took a deep breath and said. “Can I ask you to sign here, Sir?” She held out a pen.

   “My pleasure,” he leant forward, signing on the dotted line.

A silent scream remained trapped in her throat as his pendant dangled from his rippled chest, an intricate gold star studded with diamonds.  
 
« Last Edit: August 31, 2010, 11:50:21 AM by Mrs_Butler »

Offline johnnyh2

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 02:26:09 PM »
I’m not the sharpest of men, so please take my comments with a pinch of salt. 

No, I don’t see a hook.  If there is one, I missed it.  And no, I felt no suspence.  Sorry.

Nevertheless, I’d definitely have carried on reading.  I found it convincing and I like the seemingly effortless way you write.  I already fancy the guy with the necklace and have a quiet loathing for his lady friend.  (I actually loathe him too, but … arrogance can be sexy.)

It’s weird, because I totally understand why you’ve described the woman’s hair and nails, (I’d have done the same), but it still felt superficial and unnecessary.  I guess because I already know what she looks like.  I’d expect her to have ‘perfectly glossy hair’.  I read it again just now taking out that line, and thought it worked better.  Less forced.  (I’m not suggesting you delete it.  I would; but …).

This bit though …

  “On my wage?” The estate agent shrugged, her eyes scrutinised the French woman. The Cartier watch, expensive shoes and bag, even her pen looked expensive as she scribbled her number on a pad.

... works (for me), and would read even better if one ‘expensive’ was swapped for another word.  It’s great that you don’t give us more descriptive detail in that passage.  Just enough.  I can see her accessories. 

I don’t know why the hair and nails descriptions seem pointless, but the descriptions in the passage I pasted above, work.  Sorry, that’s not helpful at all, is it?

Nevertheless, I say I can see no obvious hook, but I’m kinda hooked.
 
I didn’t understand why her head was spinning, bile rising, back sweating and hands were shaking.  It seemed a pretty extreme combination of emotional responses.  Was it the excitement of her maybe selling them a two million pound house?  Or was it because she fancied the guy?  Yeah, I definitely think I missed something.   

Is this the opening of a novel?  Whatever it is, I’d read more.  I’m curious.

Regards,
Johnny.

ps … There are loads of people on here who, if you’re lucky, will give you fantastic criticism and advise. 

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 03:28:03 PM »
Instinct tells me the estate agent either hates or fears 'pendant man'.  Possibly she knows him, even if he doesn't recognise/remember her.  She clearly needs to see the pendant properly to be sure, but why?  I can't guess, but I assume it's something to do with her daughter.

The French Filly is quite nicely crafted, but I already have a feeling she's not a major player in the game, just one of pendant man's accessories.

If I was a fish I think I'd sense there's a hook in amongst the bait, glistening with the gold of the chain/pendant.

Now tell me I'm totally wrong ;-)

Gyppo

PS:  ...this time offering a tantalising glimpse...  I think you need finding or catching, not offering.

...a photograph within a silver frame she'd took from the office desk... Sorry, 'she'd took' isn't right.  'She'd taken', or 'she took'.  In fact you don't really need that bit at all.  '....a photograph within a silver frame from the office desk...' works just as well.  The reader would assume, from their own experience, that photo frames live on desks, and that the French Filly hadn't magically plucked it from nowhere.

Gyppo    
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Offline LRSuda

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2010, 05:10:11 PM »
Maybe I've burnt out a bit this weekend and need a nap, but I felt I was missing something when I read that piece. The gold pendant obviously disturbs this character, but I cannot even guess as to why? A little mystery and leaving the reader with questions are always good things, in my opinion. But it seems to me that perhaps more of a clue should be given to hook the reader, rather than distract him or her with puzzlement over why this woman reacts so badly to the sight of this pendant.

But, as I've said, this one could just be me; it's raining, I need a nap, and I may have fried myself trying to finish that short. So, I'll take a look at this again in the morning, just to be sure.

Lisa

Offline LRSuda

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2010, 12:24:06 AM »
Okay, I've had my nap and, technically, it is now tomorrow here in the States, so let me take another crack at this.  :D

I am still more puzzled than hooked by the estate agent's adversity and strong reactions to the sight of Marcus's pendant. I want to know more, so I guess you have created a hook, but it just seems to me that these reactions are very strong in the absence of some sort of clue as to why this pendant is so disturbing. Tricky. I can understand why you don't want to explain much. Yet, it seems to me some explanation is necessary. Yes, definitely a tricky balance to strike.

Also, I think it would help the piece to name the estate agent. She would be more to the reader with a name and, therefore, more relatable. As this is, there is quite a lot about the couple, but the main character is lingering in the background, except for in the opening and closing paragraphs. So, perhaps, something to make her more alive to the reader so these strong feelings she is having matter more? Could be what's missing from the hook is that the reader doesn't know her enough to really care about her, even though the narrative is interesting.

Oh! One last thing.

A well toned arm stretched round his wife as he stared at the estate agent’s legs in a professionally inconspicuous manner. 

I'd suggest He stretched a well-toned arm around his wife... something about disembodied body parts doing their own thing never reads right to me, unless we're talking Stephen King.  ;D

But, I do like this. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with it.

Lisa

MrsButler

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2010, 06:34:20 AM »
Johnny, Gyppo, Lisa,

Sorry it's taken so long to respond to your critiques and THANK YOU!
 ;D

I had an internet nightmare...no connection for nearly a week ...it was hell!    :'(

I'm going to work on this using your critiques and Johnny, yes, this is an idea for a novel.

The plot...the estate agent was raped as a young girl, the man who did this (pendant man) left a scar in the shape of a star on her back...he moves away before she can point the finger (shes ashamed).  Later she discovers she's pregnant and has a daughter...many years later she sees pendant man in estate agents with his beautiful french wife and so begins her plan of revenge.

I won't reveal how she gets her revenge yet, but its shocking to say the least!  :o

Best wishes

Alison

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2010, 12:22:14 PM »
I agree it would help a reader make a quicker connection to your MC if we had a name for her.

Perhaps the man might call her by name early on. Which brings up another question (in my wayward mind), would he remember the name of that younger version of her and if so, would a hint of that memory show as a spark in his eyes or a sly grin? 

I didn't pick up on the importance of the pendant until near the end of this. Which make me wonder - there must be something special about it, something which makes it instantly recognizable to the MC.  Assuming this is true, wouldn't she experience a stronger reaction to the pendant?  As it is now, it is almost lost among 'shirt', 'buttons', and 'chest'. Plus, at first mention, it is 'necklace' which on a man, gave me the mistaken impression that it was just a chain with nothing attached. Perhaps that's just me though.

Overall, I like this and hope you continue to work on it because I want to read more, lots more.

Just a little niggle:
Quote
Three buttons down his crisp white shirt, near dead centre of his chest, was a solid gold necklace.

and later;


Quote
A well toned arm stretched round his wife as he stared at the estate agent’s legs in a professionally inconspicuous manner. 

Would the 'toned arm' be that visible covered by a 'crisp white shirt'? 

If the shirt was silk, I could understand, but 'crisp' tells me that is not the case.   
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MrsButler

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2010, 05:46:18 PM »
Thanks Country4Gal,

How clever of you to notice the shirt thing...silk versus crisp shirt.

Yes , the arm would only be visible in a sheer silk shirt or similar.

These comments are like gold dust to me...will make some changes and post again soon!  :-*  Love to you all!

Alison ;D

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2010, 07:55:58 PM »
I don't know how clever it was Alison.  My mother started teaching me to sew as soon as my feet could reach the treadle on she sewing machine. It wasn't all that long after that I began to develop a fondness for certain fabrics, many of which we couldn't afford at the time.

All these years later, I'm still picky about the fabrics that will lay next to my skin. A feel, a touch lets me know how it will not only feel, but how it will drape when worn. 

Some things just stick forever it seems.  ;D
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2010, 06:54:06 AM »
I don't know how clever it was Alison.  My mother started teaching me to sew as soon as my feet could reach the treadle on she sewing machine. It wasn't all that long after that I began to develop a fondness for certain fabrics, many of which we couldn't afford at the time.

All these years later, I'm still picky about the fabrics that will lay next to my skin. A feel, a touch lets me know how it will not only feel, but how it will drape when worn. 

Some things just stick forever it seems.  ;D

Here we see one of the great truisms of writing/life at work.  One person's commonplace is another person's treasure.  'Stuff' which has become instinctive knowledge to Alice, which she probably rarely has to consciously think about, is like gold to Alison.

Life is full of this useful stuff if you walk around with eyes and ears open.

The great thing about this circle is we sometimes recognise the value of our 'commonplace' and share it around with others.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

MrsButler

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2010, 07:00:05 AM »
 
Quote
Life is full of this useful stuff if you walk around with eyes and ears open.

The great thing about this circle is we sometimes recognise the value of our 'commonplace' and share it around with others.

 

So true, Gyppo!   ;D

I love this writing site...I've learnt so much since I've joined and am VERY  grateful to all my peers!

Alison :-*

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Does this have a hook? And does it create suspense? Around 600 words
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2010, 12:21:31 PM »
Preening my feathers.

Amazed to find I have useful stuff among all the clutter in my head.  ;D
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

MrsButler

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Re: Starr Struck Story (Rewritten) Around 1155 words
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2010, 11:53:15 AM »
Hello , my lovelies   XXXXX

Is this... or should I say "zis"   any better?


Alison     x :-*